A judge has taken into account a man’s “reduced intellectual capacity” in sentencing him for grooming and engaging explicitly with an underage girl.
On Wednesday, Jason Luckhurst was sentenced to five years and two months in prison for messaging and attempting to engage in sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was 26-years-old.
During their conversations, Mr Luckhurst sent naked images and videos of himself masturbating.
The girl was in fact an online persona being used by police to investigate him.
Mr Luckhurst was arrested on 15th July, 2020 after attempting to meet the girl at NSW’s Foster Beach, where he arrived with a makeshift bed in the back of his car.
He watched from jail via videolink as the sentence was handed down by Judge Mark Marien at Sydney’s Downing Centre.
A non-parole period of two years and seven months backdated to the time of his arrest will make Mr Luckhurst eligible for release early next year.
During conversations with what he believed was the 14-year-old, Mr Luckhurst used highly sexually explicit language, sent naked photos and videos of himself and encouraged the girl to touch herself so it didn’t hurt when they were together.
Having sent pictures of himself, Mr Luckhurst messaged, “Aye do you have any hot pics of you baby? Like bra and undie pics.”
He also encouraged the girl to move in with her father to Foster so she was closer to where he lived in Taree.
The court heard psychologist reports attesting Mr Luckhurst has “significantly reduced intellectual capacity” which made him less able to reason and practice good judgment.
He reported to one psychologist he had thought the messages may have been coming from an undercover police officer but “took the risk”.
Mr Luckhurt’s overall intellectual function was rated as “borderline” and it was noted he had “significant” learning difficulties at school.
Mr Marien accepted that due to his intellectual capacity, Mr Luckhurst’s moral culpability for the crimes was significantly reduced.
However, he also noted despite there being no actual “victim” the crimes were no less serious.
After maintaining an online relationship with police posing as the underage girl for several months, Mr Luckhurst arranged to meet her for the purpose of having sex.
Prior to the meeting, Mr Luckhurst messaged, “If anyone says anything, you’re my sister. If anyone sees us together.”
Instead, when Mr Luckhurst arrived at the rendezvous, he was taken into custody by investigators.
At the time of his arrest, Mr Luckhurst was living with a partner who has supported him throughout the process and expressed intentions to reconnect when he is released from prison.
Mr Luckhurst plead guilty on April 2021 to using a carriage service to message a girl under 16 to engage in sexual activity and attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16.
Speaking to psychologists, he described it as a “stupid mistake” and said he was “sorry for what he had done”.
In handing down the sentence, Mr Marien said Mr Luckhurst experienced particular “vulnerability” in jail due to his borderline function.
He also noted Mr Luckhurst had spent significant periods of time in Covid lockdown within jail since he was arrested over two years ago.